• 多彩な分野で新しい役割を担うアイドル達

    [From May Issue 2014]

    “Idols” are a cultural phenomenon representative of modern day Japan. Not a day passes when one of these girls doesn’t make an appearance on TV, in magazines or on the Internet. Besides the idols who are active on a national level, they play a variety of roles: from local idols designed to be associated with their region, to virtual idols – fictional characters that appear on the Internet.
    The diversity of fields in which idols are active has been expanding recently in Japan. In the midst of this, a new group made its debut this year and has been attracting a lot of attention. They are the “Game Girls,” Japan’s first idol group to specialize in video gaming. The six game-loving girls were gathered together by Alice Project a large management firm that handles underground idols.
    Underground idols are those that, rather than appearing on TV, appear mainly at live shows and other events. In live music clubs in and around Akihabara, many underground idols perform almost daily. Featuring extreme performances and aggressive sounds, their concerts have an underground appeal that sets them apart from the concerts given by regular idols.
    Their manager recounts how the Game Girls came to be formed. “Live gaming broadcasts are now huge overseas. Japan is lagging behind this trend, so I thought of broadcasting live gaming with idols. As members, we selected idols who were particularly into gaming.” Each member is in charge of a genre.
    “In 2014, next generation consoles like PlayStation 4, Wii U and Xbox One are being released. I was convinced that an idol group specializing in gaming would catch on while the gaming industry was so hot,” says their manager. “We are already flooded with job offers and inquiries from the industry. We’ll be working not only in Japan, but also overseas as much as we can,” he says.
    Meanwhile, virtual idols that have been popular in virtual platforms, such as the Internet, are now diversifying their activities into new areas. YUZUKI Yukari has been recruited as a brand ambassador for Memanbetsu Airport in Hokkaido. She is a virtual singer created by voice synthesis software VOICEROID and singing voice and synthetic software VOCALOID™. The hitherto-unheard-of idea to use a virtual idol as the public face of a community revitalization project is attracting a lot of attention.
    She was chosen because she fit the strict criteria which excluded the use of costumed mascot characters – which have been all the rage in recent years – and demanded that she fit in with the public image of the airport. A spokesperson for the Memanbetsu Airport building explains, “She’s just been appointed, but more and more people are having their pictures taken with a life-sized panel of her and her popularity is on the rise.”
    “In the future, we’ll organize events involving Yuzuki Yukari, such as a music contest that takes the theme of Memanbetsu Airport and exhibitions of works associated with her,” says the spokesperson. These days, idols active in Japan don’t only sing and dance on TV. They occupy a unique place as entertainers that embrace a diverse range of activities. From now on more and more idols will be active in a variety of fields.

    Text: NAKAGOMI Koichi[2014年5月号掲載記事]

    「2014年は、プレイステーション4にWii U、Xbox Oneと次世代ゲーム機が多く発売されます。ゲーム業界が盛り上がっている中、ゲーム専門のアイドルグループは絶対に活躍できると思いました」と担当マネージャー。「既に業界からのオファーや問い合わせが殺到しています。日本だけでなく、海外での活動も積極的に行っていきます」と話します。



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  • 温もりある食卓風景を表現

    [From May Issue 2014]

    IIJIMA Nami, Food Cordinator
    NHK’s morning program, “Gochisousan” ended its run this March; the delicious looking dishes featured on the show from the dining tables of ordinary families of the first half of the Taisho era and last half of the Showa era were popular with viewers. Food coordinator, IIJIMA Nami, was in charge of creating those dishes.
    “A food coordinator’s job is to suggest dishes that would be suitable for a particular TV commercial, drama, or movie, then to actually create that dish on location and prepare the tableware and tablecloth on which to serve it up on. With TV dramas and movies, directors often ask me questions and request my suggestions about dishes in the script phase. ‘Gochisosan’ was difficult in that I was asked to give logical explanations of the setups that I usually create by intuition.”
    These settings aren’t necessarily confined to today’s Japan. In some cases they’re set in the past and in others, overseas. Thanks to the rich knowledge of cookery she’s accumulated over the years, it’s been possible for her to reproduce dishes even when the correct implements or ingredients weren’t available. “I come up with suitable methods and dishes that match the situation by mixing together my knowledge of regional dishes of Japan and other countries, wine lore, Chinese medicinal food, vegetable cultivation and traditional food in my mind’s eye.” As, for example, in the case of the movie “Kamome Shokudo” – set in Finland – Iijima’s dishes, and more particularly home cooking, always give viewers something to discuss.
    Iijima says, “I’ll be happy if those who see my table settings think to themselves: ‘I want to make that,’ or ‘I’d like to make my table look like that.’” Such remarks aren’t, in fact, rare and Iijima has published books. “I spend most of my time preparing dishes for shoots, so I never thought I could have my own cookery book. Since I measure by eye when cooking for myself, in order to satisfy readers, I wrote my book series ‘LIFE’ after many experiments.” Because it was made in such a way, Iijima’s cookery book is so popular that readers have commented that: “It looks delicious,” and “It looks like I could make that myself.”
    “When I look at recipes from the postwar years, I’m really amazed by the time and energy people put into preparing dishes. They would make a charcoal fire, put a pan on a clay cooking stove and make stew with a white sauce made from scratch. I sometimes wonder how convenient things should get in modern times. Convenience is great, but convenient things, too, are going to change over time. I wanted my book to also be read in the future, so it introduces recipes that employ traditional methods; using neither microwave ovens nor instant stock.”
    Iijima thinks Japanese cuisine is characterized by the fact that it makes the most of the natural flavors of raw ingredients. She says, “It might seem unusual, but, because Japanese want to make the most of the natural flavors of ingredients, such as fish, meat and vegetables, we skim the scum from broths. I have a keen interest in the differing food cultures from countries like Korea, in which this scum is considered to be a source of umami (savory) flavor,” she says.
    Text: ICHIMURA Masayo[2014年5月号掲載記事]


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  • 日本人にこそ見直してほしい日本食の長所

    [From May Issue 2014]

    Erica ANGYAL Nutrition Consultant
    “Many Japanese think their longevity and beautiful skin are due to their genetics. But that’s not the case, the traditional Japanese diet has had a huge effect,” says Erica ANGYAL. Erica is active as a nutrition consultant in her home country, Australia, and in Japan. The first time she felt the beneficial effects of Japanese food was during her high school days when she stayed for one year in Oita Prefecture as an exchange student from Australia.
    “Because I was 15 years old, I had pimples. But I was very impressed as after a month of eating my host family’s cooking, my pimples were completely gone.” She says that the experience resulted in the work she is doing now. However, she also feels that the cooking commonly seen in Japanese homes 30 years ago has changed greatly.
    “I was really surprised when I saw what young models for a magazine project actually eat.” She was shocked by the fact that most of their diets lacked critical nutrients; though meals of just jam and toast contained enough calories, the diets of these models were virtually devoid of nutrition. All through the week, many of the models only consumed ready-made meals such as bentou (lunch boxes) that can be bought at convenience stores – food that contains a lot of artificial additives and chemicals. Erica is worried that such food is addictive.
    Erica says that she regrets that there is disparity between the fact that Japanese food is receiving worldwide attention and the fact that the diet of young people in Japan is becoming westernized. The Western diet promotes weight gain and it also increases the risk of all lifestyle diseases. The traditional Japanese diet is well balanced and varied with its use of seasonal ingredients.
    But, according to Erica, this conversely caused Japan to fail to keep up with preventative nutritional science. Although time has passed and the dietary lives of people have greatly changed, knowledge of preventative nutritional science has not spread. Erica worries that this will lead to a situation in which lifestyle diseases become more common; immune systems are weakened, and gynecological problems and mental imbalance arising from hormonal imbalances increase.
    She says that the ideal Japanese meal is the breakfast served at Japanese style ryokan (inn). “The variety of items, including boiled spinach, eggs and fish, promotes good hormonal balance. Although there are people who believe that it’s possible to get adequate nutrition from eating snack foods fortified with nutrients, you won’t be receiving the amazing synergistic effect of the nutrients found in whole foods.” She says that the Japanese breakfast of vegetables and fish is now attracting attention in countries such as the U.S. and the number of celebrities adopting this diet is increasing.
    Erica feels that young women in Japan are losing the vitality that should come from within. Her advice to them is to look at their breakfast again. “It does not have to be perfect. You can add nattou (fermented beans) or an egg to your rice, or drink soy milk. I suggest that you add some protein.”
    Erica has been giving nutritional guidance to many young women including the finalists of Miss Universe Japan. Her book, written in Japanese, “Diet to Become the Most Beautiful Woman in the World” was translated into other languages and has become a bestseller. From now on she hopes to show women, particularly young Japanese women, how it’s possible to become beautiful through a good diet.
    Erica Angyal website
    Text: ICHIMURA Masayo[2014年5月号掲載記事]

    栄養コンサルタント エリカ・アンギャルさん

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  • 波の力を使って電気を起こす

    [From May Issue 2014]

    Kyoritsu Electric Corporation
    The Great East Japan Earthquake of March 2011 has affected our lives in numerous ways. In particular, power shortages caused by damage to the nuclear power station inconvenienced a huge number of people. By complying with power saving measures that continue to this day, many people have discovered the importance of electricity. As a result, the debate about how to generate a safe and stable supply of electricity has heated up.
    In addition to standard hydraulic, thermal and nuclear power, recently more and more energy has been generated using methods that harness natural power like wind and sun power. In recent years, “wave power generation” has been a big topic of discussion. As Japan is surrounded by ocean, it’s the most suitable method of generating power. With this in mind, Kyoritsu Electric Corporation of Shizuoka Prefecture is conducting research and development in cooperation with Tokai University and other private companies.
    Wave power generation technology is diverse and includes the overtopping device, the oscillating water column and floating devices. Kyoritsu Electric is working with overtopping devices. Executive Director NISHI Nobuyuki explains enthusiastically, “An oscillating water column turbine can’t generate any power under bad weather conditions. The downside of floating devices is that they don’t generate much power. The overtopping wave device is still in development, but I think we’ll be able to maintain a certain level of power regardless of weather conditions.”
    Nishi and his team are developing the overtopping wave device; for this, piles drilled into the offshore seabed are fitted with equipment such as ramps, reservoirs, water discharge pipes and power generators. The method involves storing water that has surged over the ramp, when it descends it turns a propeller to generate power. “It’s particularly unique, in that compared to other methods of wave power, its effect on the environment is limited and it operates reliably,” says Nishi outlining the merits of the overtopping wave device.
    Nishi says, “Our research indicates that one meter of coastline can generate enough electric power for ten households. Compared to sun and wind power, the cost per kilowatt is low.”
    The lower cost isn’t the only advantage of overtopping wave power generation. Currents created by the revolution of the turbine propeller, dissolve oxygen into the seawater. Oxygen rich seawater promotes the growth of marine life. In other words, it’s known to have a positive effect on the fish farming and fishing industry.
    It takes a tremendous amount of money, equipment and raw materials to generate electricity. However, since Japan is an island country surrounded by ocean, wave power is constantly available for almost all coastal regions. As Japan is a country that is poor in natural resources, wave power that harnesses the abundant raw energy of the ocean is seen as a way for Japan not to lose out to foreign competition.
    Kyoritsu Electric Corporation
    Text: ITO Koichi[2014年5月号掲載記事]


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  • 大谷資料館

    [From May Issue 2014]

    Oya Ishi is a museum that archives rocks. Using manual labor, rocks have been mined in Oya Town, Tochigi Prefecture since the Edo period. A display of tools shows how that process has become automated in modern times. Thirty meters below the surface are the remains of a massive 20,000 square meter underground mining site. With its fantastic atmosphere, this space is also used for art exhibitions and concerts.
    Nearest train station: JR Utsunomiya Station. From there take the Kanto Bus bound for Oya/Tateiwa. It’s a seven minute walk from Oya Shiryokan Iriguchi bus stop.
    Admission: 700 yen (general/high school students and above), 350 yen (elementary and middle school students)
    Museum hours: 9:00am-5:00pm (last entry at 4:30pm)
    Days museum is closed: not fixed
    Oya Shiryoukan (Oya Museum)[2014年5月号掲載記事]

    最寄り駅:JR宇都宮駅より 関東バス大谷・立岩行きにて

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  • デニーズ

    [From May Issue 2014]

    This family restaurant franchise has expanded so that there are now around 380 restaurants nationwide. In addition to hamburger steaks, steaks and salads, there are many items available on the menu including Japanese cuisine and desserts. Dishes that contain seasonal ingredients are especially popular. You can also eat at home by ordering online from “Ouchi Denny’s” (Denny’s at home).

    [No. 1] Cajun Jambalaya & Hamburger Steak with BBQ Sauce 1,088 yen

    This generous portion of jambalaya (a type of American Cajun dish) contains a variety of spices, including cumin and oregano, and is served with a hamburger steak slathered with barbecue sauce.

    [No. 2] Avocado Hamburger Steak – Salad Style 848 yen

    A beef and pork ground tender hamburger patty steak served with plenty of vegetables, including avocado, tomato, lettuce, broccoli and onions.

    [No. 3] Caramel Honey Pancakes – Large Serving 467 yen

    These pancakes are thick and fluffy. Served with vanilla ice cream, caramel sauce, honey, and crushed almonds, they taste great.
    Price does not include sales tax


    【No.1】ケイジャンジャンバラヤ&ハンバーグBBQソース 1,088円


    【No.2】アボカドハンバーグ~サラダ仕立て 848円


    【No.3】キャラメルハニーパンケーキ Tallサイズ 467円



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  • 歴史の波に呑まれた女学生の恋の行方

    [From May Issue 2014]

    Haikara-san ga Tooru
    “Haikara” was a word coined in the later part of the Meiji period (1868-1912). It refers to the adoption of western style clothes or lifestyle, either by an individual or as a general trend. “Haikara-san ga Tooru” is set in the Taisho period (1912-1926). More than 50 years had passed since Japan had opened up to the world and western ideology and customs had gradually spread throughout the general public.
    The main character, HANAMURA Benio, is a schoolgirl raised in a military family. However, she rebels against the prevailing view that women should look after their families and wants to live a carefree haikara lifestyle. One day, as she is heading to school on her bicycle, Benio meets IJYUIN Shinobu, a Second Lieutenant of the Imperial Army. The handsome Shinobu makes her heart race, but Shinobu does not like Benio’s brash behavior. Teasing her for her westernized manners he puts Benio on the defensive. However, the two meet again at Benio’s house a few days’ later. The marriage of this couple has been decided upon since their grandparent’s time.
    To polish her manners before marriage, Benio ends up living in Shinobu’s home – which is the house of a count. But Benio had a plan. If the Ijuin family found out that she had terrible manners and was not good at doing housework, she would be considered unsuitable as a partner for Shinobu and the engagement would be called off. However, Benio’s behavior is a breath of fresh air in the fusty Ijuin household. The family changes for the better and the distance between her and Shinobu, as well as Shinobu’s family, decreases, bringing them closer together.
    Meanwhile, Benio gets drunk and incurs the wrath of Shinobu’s commanding officer by quarrelling with him. As a result, Shinobu is sent to the battlefront in Siberia and goes missing in action. The lives of the characters are pushed off course by the war and the Great Kanto Earthquake and do not advance as they had expected. Humor is injected into the mix, but as the story unfolds, readers are sometimes moved to tears.
    “Haikara-san ga Tooru” was serialized between 1975 to 1977 in a comic magazine for girls titled “Weekly Shojo Friend” (publication discontinued in 1996). Eight volumes of this comic book and four volumes of the paperback edition have been published. It is a firm favorite, even after the serialization ended. It has been adapted for both animated and live-action movies and TV dramatizations.
    A lot of good looking men appear in the story, and readers were eager to find out who Benio would tie the knot with in the end. Besides the considerate Shinobu, there is Benio’s childhood friend – a kabuki actor who plays female roles – an editor in chief who supports Benio from behind the scenes, a wild man who works under Shinobu, and more. Their names still come up when women around 40 years of age refer to the ideal man.
    This is not the only reason for the popularity of this comic. In Japan, even well after the Taisho era, women have been pressurized to take care of things at home. However, in the 1970s when “Haikara-san ga Tooru” was published, the social advancement of woman suddenly advanced rapidly. In the midst of such an era, Benio’s independent way of life inspired many girls.
    Text: ICHIMURA Masayo[2014年5月号掲載記事]


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  • 難しいからこそ挑戦したい

    [From May Issue 2014]

    Casey NOVOTNY
    “I wanted to challenge myself with something big,” says Casey NOVOTNY from Canada. “When it was time to decide my future during my third year of junior high school, I was interested in Japanese culture, history and animation. So I did some research about Japan in a library and learned that the Japanese language has kanji, hiragana and katakana. Having three types of characters, I thought that Japanese must be difficult. For this reason, I wanted to take up the challenge.”
    Casey chose and went on to a senior high school that had a sister school in Japan. He then took Japanese classes for an hour every day. During the first five months of his third year, he studied abroad at this sister school: Meitoku Gijuku High School in Kochi Prefecture. “I’d been longing to do kendo and was able to do it as an extracurricular activity,” Casey recalls.
    He also had difficulties, too, however. His life at the dormitory was completely scheduled from morning onwards, so finding time for both his studies and extracurricular activities wasn’t easy. Furthermore, he was embarrassed of sharing a bath with classmates. He was refused when he asked “Is it okay to wear swimming trunks?”
    He got homesick, too. “In those moments, I would show my roommate pictures of my family and tell him a lot about Canada. I only had a smattering of Japanese, so he listened to me carefully, asking me to repeat what I had said and wrote down what I was saying on paper. I talked a lot and as a result, my Japanese improved. My homesickness was gone and my roommate became like a brother to me.”
    After returning home, Casey had an overwhelming urge to go to Japan again. So he matriculated at the University of Manitoba; a university that had an exchange program. In his sophomore year, he came to study abroad at Kokugakuin University for a year. “I was startled by the crowds in Shibuya. And yet, I was happy at the same time thinking, ‘This is Japan.’ Even busy intersections and riding on crowded trains made a big impression on me,” says Casey, laughing.
    Around the time he graduated from college, Casey passed level one (the highest level) of the Japanese Language Proficiency Test. He then applied for the JET Program (Japan Exchange and Teaching Program) and returned to Japan. As someone well-versed in Japanese affairs, he became a CIR (Coordinator for International Relations) in charge of counseling ALT (Assistant Language Teachers). One day, an ALT got in touch with him to complain, “Even if I have nothing to do, I can’t leave work before the official end of the working day.”
    “I suggest you first act as your Japanese colleagues do. When in Rome, do as the Romans do,” Casey advised. “If you don’t agree with my advice, I suggest you propose some positive way to improve things. If the situation doesn’t improve despite this, you should consider how to make the best of your time here.”
    Casey is currently doing work with study abroad programs at Asia University in Tokyo. “By contacting colleges in North America on behalf of Japanese students, I feel that I’m working towards bridging the gap between Japan and North America,” he says. “With Japanese, kanji and their stroke order are difficult, but nowadays you can type them on a PC if you know how they are pronounced. You should use a lot of keigo (honorific language), in order to commit it to memory while you are still a student,” he advises.
    Asia University
    Text: SAZAKI Ryo[2014年5月号掲載記事]


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